Indigenous Data Sovereignty

Indigenous data sovereignty refers to the right of Indigenous Peoples to exercise ownership, control, and access over their data. It recognizes the reality that non-Indigenous governments and researchers have collected a lot of data about Indigenous people; and the fact that non-Indigenous people and institutions have appropriated this knowledge in breach of Indigenous laws for their benefit and to the detriment of Indigenous Peoples. 

The Remembering Project has adopted the indigenous data sovereignty framework proposed by the First Nations Information Governance Centre(FNIGC) [1] and commits to honouring its four principles, namely:

CONTROL: First Nations peoples have the right to control the collection, use, and sharing of their data and information. They have the right to decide who collects the data, how it is collected, and how people use that data.

  1. The methods by which the Remembering Project collects, uses and shares data about residential school students were developed in consultation with the archivists overseen by the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association.
  2. For any expansion of the Remembering Project’s work to other schools, the methods to collect, use and share data will be subjected to the control of the respective survivor committee for each school.

ACCESS: First Nations peoples have the right to access their data and information. Access means that First Nations have the right to know who has access to their data and information and for what purpose.

  1. The respective survivor committee and its delegates may access the data collected by the Remembering Project at any time. Requests should be directed to Ben Rowswell at [email protected] and he will respond within 72 hours.
  2. The Remembering Project will maintain a list of the volunteers provided access to the list of names of residential school students, and will make this available to survivor committees and their delegates.

POSSESSION: First Nations should possess their data and information. First Nations have the right to have their data and information stored and managed in a way that respects their cultural values and traditions. They have the right to determine who has physical possession of their data and information and ensure that archives and databases manage their data securely and confidentially.

  1. The spreadsheets and indeces containing all information collected by the Remembering Project will be shared with the survivor committee of the respective residential school and/or its delegates.

OWNERSHIP: First Nations peoples have the right to own their data and information regardless of colonial conceptions of copyright law. First Nations have the right to determine how their data and information is used and shared.

  1. The survivor committee for each residential school will have full authority over the data collected by the Remembering Project.
  2. The data collected by the Remembering Project will only be shared with the express written consent of the survivor committees for each residential school.

 

[1] From “National Gathering on Unmarked Burials: Affirming Data Sovereignty and Community Control over Knowledge and Information” Office of the Special Interlocutor, January 2023 https://osi-bis.ca/wp-content/uploads/2023/08/OSI-SummaryReport_Vancouver2023_web.pdf

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